Tale of the Tape: Lackey vs. Lester
It'll be a pair of good friends and former teammates who take the mound against each other as two longtime division rivals meet again.
Cubs starter Jon Lester and Cardinals starter John Lackey started the 2015 regular-season opener and they'll start Game 1 of the National League Division Series (Friday, 5:30 p.m. CT, TBS) at Busch Stadium. The duo won the 2013 World Series with the Red Sox and played 4 1/2 seasons together.
We take a look at how the two stack up against each other before their first meeting.
Jon Lester, Cubs
Against the opponent
2015: 5 GS, 1-3, 2.59 ERA
Career: 6 GS, 1-3, 2.56 ERA
Loves to face: Mark Reynolds, .222 (8-for-36), 8 K's; Yadier Molina, .231 (3-for-13)
Hates to face: Jason Heyward, .417 (10-for-24)
Why he'll win: Lester posted a 2.36 ERA in September and he's riding that into October. This season, he's commanded the ball better, posting the second-lowest WHIP over his nine-year career. A World Series winner in 2007 and '13, Lester is comfortable in the pressure of the postseason.
Pitcher beware: His last start against the Cardinals was a rough one, allowing four runs in six innings Sept. 20. The Cardinals have seen him five times this season and they hope they've figured him out.
Bottom line: This is what he was brought in to do and he's in his groove.
John Lackey, Cardinals
Against the opponent
2015: 3 GS, 2-0, 1.25 ERA
Career: 6 GS, 3-1, 1.94 ERA
Loves to face: Anthony Rizzo, .214 (1-for-12), 3 K's
Hates to face: Chris Coghlan, .471 (8-for-17); Austin Jackson, .385 (5-for-13)
Why he'll win: Lackey has experience in the postseason and isn't fazed by the stage. In 21 appearances over his 12-year career, Lackey has a 3.08 ERA and two World Series rings to his name. Perhaps even more impressive, Lackey is having one of his best seasons statistically and has been one of the Cardinals' most consistent pitchers. Combine all that with his career 1.94 ERA against the Cubs and he will certainly be comfortable.
Pitcher beware: He'll have a small margin of error with Lester on the mound, needing to limit a Cubs offense that has depth from top to bottom. That adds to a season in which the 36-year old has tossed the second-highest number of innings in his career.
Bottom line: He's been here before. Expect him to pitch like it.